Through Their Eyes

Center for Documentary Studies presents Literacy Through Photography exhibition

Twenty years ago, artist Wendy Ewald began exploring how children view themselves. She gave them cameras and asked them to take self-portraits and use them as catalysts for verbal and written expression. Literacy Through Photography, or LTP, was launched in the Durham public schools and then expanded to other parts of the world.

Naturally connected: Sixth-grade geography students studied relationship between Tanzania's resources and economy, including the role that water plays. Courtesy of CDS/Literacy Through Photography

For the past two years, staff members of LTP, which is based in the Center for Documentary Studies (CDS), have traveled to Arusha, Tanzania, to offer workshops to hundreds of primary-school teachers there. Together with DukeEngage volunteers, LTP has forged partnerships and started programs with local schools in and around Arusha.

Photographs taken by students at those schools make up an exhibition titled “Literacy Through Photography—Arusha, Tanzania,” now on view at CDS. They depict a wide range of subject matter, both pedagogical and personal. Children are seen performing the actions described by specific English or Swahili verbs, which accomplishes both a process-oriented goal—a grammar lesson—and a product oriented goal—the creation of prints to be used as visual classroom aides, which are noticeably missing in most Tanzanian schools. Others show children in their daily lives at home and have accompanying essays.

The exhibition is on view through January 8, 2011.

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